Here’s the post-game press conference:
- Let’s celebrate history right off the bat: congratulations to Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks for both hitting milestones in this game. Just :58 into the game, Jackson opened the scoring with his 96th three-pointer of the season; setting a new UNC single-season record. With just :25 left in the game, Meeks pulled down his 1,000th career rebound; just the ninth player in Carolina history to reach that plateau. Rebounds 999 and 1000 came in the midst of re-capturing the lead from Arkansas.
- A disturbing and alarming trend. 3 of the last 4 games, the Tar Heels have held double-digit first half leads only to see it trimmed to single-digits before the half. In this case, Carolina led by as many as 17 (30-13) with 5:30 remaining. Arkansas cut the lead to as little as four, with the halftime spread leveling off at five (38-33).
- Before Jackson hit his record-setting three, Isaiah Hicks picked up a foul. For Tar Heel fans, this is a scary moment. We’ve seen this before. Typically, within a couple minutes, Hicks has his second foul and is on the bench for the rest of the half. Not in this game. Hicks picked up foul number one just thirty seconds into the game. Foul number two? It didn’t come until only thirty seconds remained.
- Speaking of Hicks, despite a quiet scoring game (five points) for the first 38.5 minutes of the game, it was he, not Joel Berry, who made four decisive free throws down the stretch. Hicks has been the most consistent free throw shooter on the team in the latter half of the season.
- Justin Jackson and Joel Berry each had a hot start to the game and it seemed like Arkansas was in trouble. Berry missed the opening shot, but then he and Jackson each had a triple on the succeeding possessions. This was not to be as the two combined to shoot 5-24 the rest of the game. To both players’ credit, they found other ways to impact the game. Jackson had rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Berry, who was clearly bothered by his bum ankle, gritted through 34 tough minutes against the harassing Razorbacks.
- Arkansas plays defense a lot like the Seattle Seahawks. They foul on every play and just assume that the refs won’t call a foul on literally every play.
- A couple unsung heroes: Tony Bradley had seven points, all of which came in a first-half stretch where the Heels were pushing the lead out to 17. Luke Maye’s jumper around the 12:00 minute mark of the second half was huge. Arkansas had just built a four-point lead. If Maye missed the shot, Arkansas has the ball with a chance to go up six or seven.
- How many college basketball teams in the country who have a big man that run the break? Isaiah Hicks has a great play where he led the ball out and ultimately dumped-off to Tony Bradley for an easy two. Of course, on another play later in the game, Hicks had an easy pitch ahead to Justin Jackson on the break, but wound up traveling.
- Arkansas hit several ridiculous threes in the second half: a ball rolled out to the three-point line into the waiting hands of a Razorback, an ill-advised two-on-four pull-up, and an end-of-shot-clock shot after Joel Berry had just poked the ball away.
- There was a disputed out-of-bounds call late in the game. It’s obvious from replay that Kennedy Meeks tipped the three-point shot and Arkansas should have been awarded the ball with two seconds on the shot clock. But this ball in the first half was clearly off Moses Kingsley as his hand reached inside of Meeks to poke the ball away and possession was awarded to Arkansas:
Neither play decided the outcome of the game. It’s just that one happened at a more critical time than the other.
Tar Heels move on to face Butler in Memphis on Friday evening!